Meet our Flock!

Chris Sykes, Executive Director

“Originally from Tennessee, I migrated to Alabama after serving five years in the United States Marine Corps. I’m an alumnus of UAB (Go Blazers!), where I received a Bachelor & Master of Arts in Communication and a Master of Public Administration. With a passion for all things public sector, I’ve had the privilege of working for several nonprofit organizations in the Birmingham area—with the goal of changing the world one nonprofit at a time. Outside of the Alabama Wildlife Center, I can be found hiking, enjoying local food and drink, or performing and watching live music.

Favorite Bird: Cedar Waxwing

Katie Stubblefield, Clinic Manager

“I have a background in mechanical engineering and molecular biology. I Started volunteering regularly in 2003, and started working full time as an intern in 2005. My hobbies include gaming and a myriad of dogs, cats, horses, and various other animals. My favorite part of the job is releasing rehabilitated birds.”

Favorite bird: “The one that was just released.”

Andrew Arnold, Director of Education and Outreach

“I’m a native of south Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in Wildlife Science from Auburn University and a Master’s degree in Biological Sciences from Old Dominion University. I’ve been with AWC since February 2019 as the Director of Education and Outreach, and love getting to spark someone’s interest in the wonderful world around us and teach others how we can be good stewards of nature and help preserve its beauty for future generations. In my spare time I love to go camping, see live music and of course birdwatch!”

Favorite bird: “I’m a huge fan of woodpeckers, but my favorite bird is an American Kestrel!”

Alexis Polinski, Development Coordinator

“I have always wanted to work with animals, and it has been my career goal since watching The Lion King when I was four. Over the years, I have spent time working as a kennel technician at an animal clinic, volunteering with Bama Bully Rescue, and volunteering at a cheetah conservation in South Africa. Currently, I’m a senior at Oregon State University obtaining a B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife, & Conservation Sciences. Outside of work and school, I thoroughly enjoy playing video games, doing puzzles, and bonding with my dog.

Favorite bird: I’m a huge fan of raptors, but I haven’t figured out what my favorite bird is quite yet. Though I’ve begun falling in love with Mississippi Kites.”

Mary Stockard, Raptor Coordinator

“I began as a volunteer in 1981 when I was a college freshman. AWC was the Alabama Wildlife Rescue Service back then. I raised my first baby squirrels in 1983. When the Center opened in Oak Mountain State Park in 1987, I began volunteering, eventually becoming the Mammal Program Supervisor, which I did for 10 years. Over the years I have worked in every aspect of wildlife rehabilitation with numerous species of mammals, birds and reptiles. In addition to my current position at AWC as Raptor Coordinator, I am a state licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator for mammals including rabies vector species. My hobbies are primarily drawing and painting. As you could guess, the best part of my job is seeing the animals in my care successfully released. “

Favorite bird: “To ask which bird is my favorite is like asking which child is my favorite however if I must choose; indigo buntings. I rarely see them and always get excited to see the male’s brilliant blue color.”

Carleen Phillips, Songbird Coordinator

“I have been a volunteer with the Alabama Wildlife Center since 2016, starting as a caretaker for Tree Top, then moving to the education program for two years. A two-time songbird intern, I became the songbird coordinator in 2022. I am a mother of three who enjoys photography, writing, and being outdoors.”

Favorite bird: “It depends on my mood, but I love Bluebirds and Chimney Swifts.”

Viktoria Partain, Education Assistant

“Hello! I’m Viktoria and I’m a new addition to the Education Team. I’ve been working with non-releasable birds of prey for about two years now. While I’ve only been at the Alabama Wildlife Center for a short amount of time, I’ve already learned so much about the birds of prey in this area. Working with birds that weren’t located in South Dakota has been an amazing opportunity so far!”

Favorite bird: “The most interesting bird I’ve gotten to work with is a Ferruginous Hawk, the biggest hawk you’ll find in North America. My favorite bird overall, though, is the Loggerhead Shrike – a songbird with a raptor’s habits.”